Interval Timing, Dopamine, and Motivation

in Timing & Time Perception
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The dopamine clock hypothesis suggests that the dopamine level determines the speed of the hypothetical internal clock. However, dopaminergic function has also been implicated for motivation and thus the effect of dopaminergic manipulations on timing behavior might also be independently mediated by altered motivational state. Studies that investigated the effect of motivational manipulations on peak responding are reviewed in this paper. The majority of these studies show that a higher reward magnitude leads to a leftward shift, whereas reward devaluation leads to a rightward shift in the initiation of timed anticipatory behavior, typically in the absence of an effect on the timing of response termination. Similar behavioral effects are also present in a number of studies that investigated the effect of dopamine agonists and dopamine-related genetic factors on peak responding. These results can be readily accounted for by independent modulation of decision-thresholds for the initiation and termination of timed responding.

Interval Timing, Dopamine, and Motivation

in Timing & Time Perception



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    Sample raster plots from three representative rats trained on three different FI schedules (FI30s, FI45s, FI60s). Green dots indicate start times whereas the red dots indicate stop times for each PI trial. Data were provided graciously by Russell Church (Church et al., 1998).

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    Illustration of the temporal decision-making (using a Poisson pacemaker) as it takes place in the PI trials. Illustrative data are shown for a given target interval (i.e., 1000 arbitrary time units) in three different trials, each with a different random LTM memory sample (referred to as LTM in the axis label). Each trial is indicated by a different line thickness. Dashed horizontal line shows the decision threshold, which when crossed initiates responses and when crossed again terminates responses. Solid horizontal lines represent the time windows over which the animal would respond (i.e., run period) in anticipation of the reinforcement in these three different PI trials. Note the dependence of the start and stop times on threshold crossings in different trials. This figure is published in color in the online version.

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    Top panel: Evolution of the temporal distance metric as a function of trial time for twenty different trials (e.g., under baseline conditions). Bottom panel: Evolution of the same metric after the clock speed was increased by 10% (e.g., after dopamine agonist administration). Dashed horizontal line is the decision threshold utilized for both response initiation and termination. Dotted horizontal line is the decision threshold assumed for response initiation only. Note that in the latter case, the thresholds for initiation and termination of anticipatory responses are independent (e.g., Balcı et al., 2009b; Church et al., 1994; Gallistel et al., 2004b). This figure is published in color in the online version.

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    Solid curves show the average peak response curves calculated from simulated data for two different target intervals (i.e., 1000 and 2000 arbitrary time units) in the baseline conditions. Top panel: Dashed curves show the average peak response curves after the clock speed was increased by 10%. Dotted curves show the simulated average response curves when the clock speed was kept constant but the start threshold was lowered (farther from the target interval) by a constant amount without changing the stop thresholds (note that the temporal distance metric is a ratio). Bottom panel: Dashed curves show the average peak response curves after the clock speed was decreased by 10%. Dotted curves show the simulated average response curves when the clock speed was kept constant but the start threshold was increased (closer to the target interval) by a constant amount without changing the stop thresholds. The behavioral effects of threshold modulation will be addressed later in the paper. This figure is published in color in the online version.

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    Predicted psychometric functions when the temporal bisection task is treated as a dual PI procedure and differences between response rates for two different target durations are computed as described in the main text. Top and bottom panels show that earlier and later start times for long reference duration lead to leftward and rightward shifts in the psychometric function, respectively. Start time modulation for the short target duration does not lead to any shifts in the psychometric function. Consequently, this view accounts for the results of Galtress and Kirkpatrick (2010). This figure is published in color in the online version.

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